The Consummate Collector
Going through my recent batch of Colt letters has shown a few surprises. One of my New Service's had the letter S on the left side so I thought I would letter it to see if something might turn up. When I mentioned this to my good friend and Forum member JONNYB and told him that it showed being shipped to Los Angeles he immediately said it was probably a Stembridge movie prop gun. I looked at the letter and sure enough it was sold to J.S. Stembridge. A quick Google search told the story of how James Stembridge left his East Coast home shorty after the Spanish-American war and went to Los Angeles to seek his fortune. Somewhere around 1913 he met up with Cecil B. DeMille and landed a job helping him make a war movie. Mr. DeMille wanted James to coach the actors on how to act like soldiers and emulate their habits. This led to some steady work and sometime between 1916 and 1920 they recognized the need to accumulate a stock of firearms that could be used as movie props. Thus was the beginning of the Stembridge gun arsenal. Over the years, James continued looking for and purchasing guns of all make and style and he became the leading armorer for the movie industry. Even though they rented firearms to all the studios, Stembridge Gun Rental was housed in a secure warehouse on the Paramount lot until 1979. This gun makes you wonder if it might have been used by Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney or Spencer Tracy. Oh well I guess I will never know but it's nice to dream.